Tuesday, September 23, 2008
One of the first things I did when I moved to NYC around 1998 was weasel my way into a live performance of an adaptation of the famous Russian novel "The Master and Margarita." I was living in the spare room of old friend actor Mike McCartney (another Skidmorian) and answered a phone call for him about an audition for this show, and I turned it into an audition for me. Its not something I'd normally do, but something about this was more or less fated, as I made some great friendships from participating in this show, so I just chalk it up as being meant to be. Mike got the part anyway. So I became a pivotal part of the show, acting as the sound foley, the announcer, and several comedic characters.
The show was first shown as a live theatrical show, then graduated into a live radio broadcast. This is a recording of that 2nd show. Hope you dig it. Special thanks to Megan Ryan, who directed, Cami Delavigne, who wrote the adaptation, Sharon Unterman, the Margarita, Steve Strauss, who drew the postcard, and of course, the mythical sergeant of love, Mike McCartney.
Just wanted to post this image since it semi relates to the Vision Into Art from the last post. Around the turn of the millennium I was working with my buddy Ian Belton, fellow Skidmore College grad and master of disaster, on a series of weird little plays based around Lorca, the Spanish surrealist poet. Ian directed, I acted, along with Holter Graham (also from Skidmore) and Jesse Perez. Ian and Jesse were in Julliard at the time, along with a lot of the folks who created Vision Into Art. In fact, their producer/director Paola Prestini was producing shows that our pieces would appear in. At any rate, this show, Amargo, the Lorca Trittico was the culmination of 3 shorter pieces we had created, one of which we were working on the day before the World Trade fell. Definitely some cool, F-ed up theatre. In this image, we are three surrealist creators. Holter on the left is Luis Bunuel the filmmaker, Jesse in the center is Lorca, and I am Salvador Dali. And all the meat symbolized meat.
As far as I remember, it is early in the day, the meat locker is damn cold, and I am most likely hung over. I think my face looks very strange in this image, almost like a mask that needs adjusting. Somehow that seems appropriate to the subject matter.
What I remember from this show:
1. I played a goat at one point, I remember climbing into the audience and grabbing someone's shoe with my mouth, and throwing it behind me (with my mouth) about 20 feet and hitting someone else on the other side of the audience.
2. Holter swung in on a rope as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, wearing a football helmet and acting extremely retarded.
postcard above: Jesse aghast and me as Spanish officer with cap and cigar.
3. We did a full reenactment of a scene from some Selma Hayek movie, (can't remember the name) but she's a gypsy and tells this guy he will be a juggler. There is a series of shots where she is supposed to be juggling, but its a. somebody's arms juggling b. her face looking at the balls as if she's juggling c. cut to her catching the juggling balls as if she's done juggling. Extremely fake. In our version, Jesse plays Selma, Holter,the guy, and I'm her goat. Jesse pronounces "juggler" with a "y" as in "yuggler," which, according to him, is "espanish." Pronounce that last word to yourself and you'll get it.
4. Me throwing a wine bottle to Holter across the stage and him catching without fail while he looks away from it--harder than you'd think. It always amazed me.
5. The performance from the card just above is of note simply because some rocket scientist from the New York Theatre Workshop gave us envelopes containing a subway token and the words "A token of our appreciation" which, in lieu of actually getting paid for the performances, is about as offensive as getting a flaming bag of shit after winning the lottery.
6. Getting to do the "Happy happy joy joy" dance like Wren and Stimpy.
7. Pretending ants are climbing up our arms.
8. Ian yelling at us. I actually don't really remember this, I'm sure I've blocked it out, but it had to have happened frequently. Also, I'm quoted as saying in rehearsal "I hate you all, but we really should rehearse."
I think I almost got laid a few times because of these shows. And probably almost got paid, too.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Just go here and click on "Bios."
Friday, September 19, 2008
"Athena 2008" is the first project I completed this year, a painting I made for my college friend, the fair Nicole Stagg, who previously was spearheading the Joke Project website with my buddies the Flackman Bros. Nicole approached me around Christmas time of last year, saying she wanted to hire me to paint an original image for her to sort of initiate the beginning of a new phase in her life. She showed me a few images that had meant something to her--for example:
(this is an image she had grown up with and felt strongly represented the kind of bold graphic quality she was looking for. Consequently, I don't think the painting I eventually did captured the same style, though I do think it represents a similar idea)
(I surely don't have to tell you that this is a surrealist's dream.)
With these ideas in mind, I proposed doing some kind of mythic image, with the goddess representing her higher self, as well as feminine qualities of strength, leadership, and wisdom, which seemed appropriate to a lady who runs a large website. In the dead of winter, 2008, I set out to discover what this new image of the goddess just might be.
I've been studying the path to enlightenment for quite some time now, and mythic images and stories have become important as signpost or way-showers in my research. One mythological researcher that I've become really fond of is a writer and interviewer named William Henry. Based in Nashville, Tenesee, William has a really upbeat quality about his research and storytelling, and his findings and leaps of intellect have really spoken to me for years. You can listen to some of his interviews on his website, or as a guest host on Dreamland, Whitley Strieber's internet radio show on his site Unknown Country. Trust me, this guy is really on to something, and I always look forward to his newest revelation.
At any rate, William is constantly referencing the replica of the Parthenon of Athens that exists in Nashville, (check that link out, its awesome, seriously) complete with a rather large statue of the Greek goddess of Wisdom, Athena herself. Lights went off in my head as I realized this was the perfect representative for Nicole's transition and new direction. As you can see, the statue, (which I believe stands around 40 feet tall and is gilded with gold) holds a sort of angelic figure in her right hand, while a shield sits below her lowered right arm as her spear rests on her right shoulder. The angel is actually the goddess Nike, who represents Victory.
I proposed to Nicole that in our image Athena be focused on Nike, while her shield and spear would be set down behind her. This was meant to represent that she was putting her struggles behind her, and focusing only on victory, on positive outcome for the future. Nicole loved the idea, and it was off to the races I went. But wait, there's more to this story... so much more....
More facts about Athena; according to the legend, she is born from a crack in the head of her father, Zeus, also known as Jupiter. Somewhat coincidentally, if you observe the emblem of the sneaker company Nike (remember her?), you will note that their ubiquitous swoosh is actually a depiction of the rings of Saturn. Could connecting the symbolisms of the goddess legend and the shoe company be telling us something about a greater astrological and spiritual relationship? Perhaps Athena is Saturn, and Nike, maybe once her moon, is now destroyed and held in sway by the planet's gravity?
Also, according to Irish metaphysical historian Michael Tsarion, Athena's name is derived from the god worshiped by the 18th dynasty heretical Egyptian king and queen Akhenaton and Nephertiti. This god, called the Aten (also, Aton), is said to be a disc of light or sun disc, purported by western scholars to be the first example in written history of monotheism, and is said to pre-date Moses' revelation of the one God of the Hebrews. Tsarion declares (and he's not the only historian who thinks this) Akhenaton actually IS Moses, as the name Mosis is a suffix used by many kings of the 18th dynasty (example: Thutmosis the 3rd). Admittedly, their story's are similar--Akhenaton is an Egyptian king who is cast out after changing the entire worship of Egypt from many gods to one God; Moses is adopted and raised by an Egyptian king as a prince, later bringing down Egypt through his introduction of the power of the one God, then cast out to lead his people through the desert for 40 years or what have you. Tsarion speculates that Akhenaton/Moses (or his followers) spread out their belief of the one God from Egypt into the west, cropping up in different mythological forms and influencing empires all way into our current America. Thus, the
light disc Aten becomes many centuries later the city of Athens and the goddess Athena. Tsarion paints this movement with a potentially nefarious thrust, leading all the way into the corruption of the shadowy New World Order that plagues our modern paranoia and manifests as the eye in the pyramid on the back of the one dollar bill. For me, the jury is still out whether Akhenaton was a megalomaniac uprooting a late dynasty Egypt into following an invisible circle of light or a prophet revealing a deeper truth about the unifying consciousness that lives behind the eyes of every creature on this planet. At any rate, I wanted to show you, the reader, the connections I was making as I was creating the painting over the month of January, 2008. It was proving to be an intense experience. But wait, there's more...much more....
Lets go back to William Henry. A fascinating subject WH has been studying is the story of Meru, the center of the mythical city of Shambhala at the center of the world. Go here to check out the full monty, its really an incredible legend. I'm not going to go into the whole story, WH tells it so much better than I ever could. Suffice it to say, at the crux of this legend is a 2nd century Chinese manuscripts that depicts the Meru tower or rod, a structure that may have symbolized a inter dimensional doorway or kabbalistic ladder to the heavens. If you look at it, it also seems to correlate to the human spinal system. William Henry says it is also a diagram for a particle accelerator! In his article, he has had an artist create a 3d rendering of the Meru super antennae, sort of fleshing out the drawing so you can see how it resembles a piece of modern or even futuristic technology. So where am I going with this one? A mythical city? A heavenly ladder? A skeletal system? A particle accelerator? Clearly, the leap William is hoping you will make is that this is a myth depicting not only an advanced piece of technology from the ancient past, but also that the technology lies within the human body, making a person the potential instrument to be used to travel into the heavenly or inter dimensional worlds. Or, in the sense of quantum reality, each person can tap into their own inner Aten to realize themselves as the center of the world, a singularity, a god.
And doesn't the structure look like a spear?
Bing!!!! Another light flashes on! I have not only chosen to release Athena from her obligations as a goddess of battle by putting her spear aside, I've also replaced the war instrument with a more literal interpretation of what a spear might represent in mythological language. Hence, in my painting, the spear would become a stairway to heaven--and now Athena would be flanked by the Meru particle accelerator to lead the goddess up towards the higher mind.
Here's a few initial sketches of the ideas I presented to Nicole for approval:
Here's the goddess Nike offering Athena her perfected soul.
Athena's wartime weapons and armor at rest: her helmet, the shield of Zues, and her spear, now depicted as the Meru particle accelerator.
Here's the cracked open skull of Jupiter, flanked by some befuddled angels.
And here's the whole scene on a mellow beach setting (per request of Nicole).
I gotta be honest with you, painting can really suck. Its hard work, usually for not enough money, and its really kind of lonely. I'm a night owl, and if I'm painting I'll stay up till 8am and sleep half the day. This will screw up your sense of time and connection to the outside world. Its like you've been dreaming for days, or in this case, for a month in the middle of winter. Also, I was really digging deeply into the work of Michael Tsarion while making this thing, and he's Irish, and being part of an oppressed people doesn't always make your view on the world come off as all that positive. Don't get me wrong, his info and insight are rather incredible. Mind blowing. I could feel it change me as I listened to his wisdom. But damn, man, some of the conspiracy stuff can get pretty bleak. If I was going to pull off this painting with a positive spin, I was going to have to look for something new on the internet to entertain me.
Don't ask me why, but, being fascinated by the whole UFO community, one day I decided to see if there was any connection between Athena and extraterrestrials. Guess what?
I had heard of the Ashtar Command before, but I hadn't ever really looked into it. The UFO community is extremely entertaining and totally brain boggling. In the past after spending time looking into ufos, I definitely had to leave it behind for a while so I could accomplish some earthly tasks and also not go completely insane. But lots of time had passed, and this painting was leading me down a lot of fascinating channels, so it only made sense that the last stop had to be outer space.
Lady Athena seems like a very nice lady. I've spent some hours now listening to her podcasts and she's actually pretty down to earth in the way she speaks and in her sense of humor. I'm sure if you met her on the street you wouldn't necessarily know she professes to be a commander of an interstellar community of space people invisibly monitoring and mentoring humanity with a message of love and peace and the intention of helping us all realize our Christ illuminated selves and transitioning the entire planet into an higher enlightened consciousness. And again, she seems like a really nice lady. Here's her description of the Ashtar Command's purpose and function:
"The Ashtar Command, also known as the Orion Jerusalem Command and the Fleets of the Solar Cross, is the airborne alliance of the Councils of Light of the Divine Throne Worlds. We are the Celestial and Ascended Hosts who, under the direction of Commander Ashtar, serve the Most Radiant One, the Christ in His mission of Love. We work in coordination with the Legions of Metatron, Melchizedek and Michael and the Councils of Light in administering the Divine Plan.
We also serve in monitoring and stabilizing planetary grid systems and other conditions which affect the various Gardens of Life, which includes your Earth. We surround this galaxy as guardians and overseers, safeguarding all evolving Souls according to the Divine Plan. We are the peace keepers and peace guardians within this universal sector.
Fleets within the Command specialize in a multiplicity of areas, among them, Spiritual education, scientific research, intergalactic protocol, diplomacy, statesmanship and the ascension of planetary worlds. We and our ground based representatives are here to assist the Earth and her population as she transfigures from dense physical, to etheric-physical bodies of Light capable of ascending with her into the fifth dimension.
Our intent is ever to inspire faith and trust in the One Divine Source, and to awaken everyone to your unique and Divine nature and purpose according to the Divine Plan. We ever encourage unity, harmony and the peaceful co-existence of all life.
We, your elder brothers and sisters from many worlds, are eagerly extending our hands to welcome you into the galactic family of which you are a part. Know that you are part of a vast universe so magnificent that even we cannot do it justice with our descriptions. We can assure you that it is teeming with life and filled with love, wisdom and creative opportunity. Know that you are precious in the sight of your Creator…that you are the Divine heirs to a kingly inheritance.
It is our delight in being of service to you and we are ever ready to respond to your specific requests. We bless you in the Love of our Most Radiant One…peace to our dear ones on Earth…we are the Celestial Hosts known as the Ashtar Galactic Command."So this sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Needless to say, as I painted along my merry way I was thrilled to realize I had inadvertantly found my long lost space brothers and sisters and was actually painting a version of our commander in chief manifested in human form right here in the good old US of A. And I had something new to listen to. Consequently, I've joined the Command's MSN group and now I eagerly await contact and can chat with ascended masters and celestial beings online. All this because of a painting! High praise for Athena's wisdom, she surely was guiding me the whole time. If you follow that link above (here it is again) you can hear Commander Lady Athena's internet radio show and also follow links to learn how you too can potentially join the Ashtar Command's chat group (if the spirit moves you, of course). I highly recommend it if you're looking for something new and approach it with a very...open...mind.
With this final puzzle piece of the onion layer under my mixed bag of metaphor-belt, I could finally complete my masterpiece. And I did.
Its my pleasure to present to you "Athena 2008"
(tuxedoed guard dog)
(Zues' split cranium. Those 3 little figures in the background are 3 ants in suits playing music.)
(Athena 2008. When the light hits it right, the gold paint glows.)
So that's it. If you are still reading, thanks for sticking with this post. I appreciate your stamina and enthusiasm for the absurd. I certainly didn't expect this project to be so bizarre and far reaching, it just worked out that way. But that's what being an artist is about. Cabdriver, Follow That Muse!!! You never know where she is going to lead you.